Delta bankruptcy judge takes medical leave of absence

Monday, January 9th 2006, 11:51 am
By: News On 6

ATLANTA (AP) _ Judge Prudence Carter Beatty, who is overseeing Delta Air Lines Inc.'s bankruptcy case, is taking a medical leave of absence.

Beatty is taking a two-month leave of absence and the Delta case has been reassigned to Judge Adlai Hardin, according to Dexter Gillies, assistant to the clerk of court in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

``It is for medical reasons,'' Gillies said Monday, but he would not detail the nature of the judge's medical problem.

Delta spokeswoman Chris Kelly said the airline doesn't expect its bankruptcy case to be delayed because of Beatty's leave. She would not comment on how long it might take a new judge to get up to speed on the case.

``We anticipate a seamless transition and look forward to continuing with our court supervised restructuring,'' Kelly said.

Meanwhile, Atlanta-based Delta, the nation's No. 3 airline, had already gotten a six-month extension until July 11 to exclusively file its reorganization plan, which had been due Thursday.

At the time of her appointment in 1982, Beatty became the fourth woman bankruptcy judge in the U.S.

Prior to her appointment, she was a partner at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, which is among Delta's lawyers in the bankruptcy case.

William Rochelle, a New York bankruptcy lawyer familiar with the case, said Hardin is a smart judge who should be able to pick up the case without much of a delay.

``There will probably be some minor disruption, but I don't think it will affect the case to any substantial degree at all,'' Rochelle said.

He said he doesn't believe Beatty's absence benefits one side or the other.

``There are lawyers all over this case and it's not like anything is going to slip by,'' Rochelle said. ``I think you could move the whole case to New Mexico and it wouldn't matter.''